Chinese President Xi Jinping takes part in a meeting with his French counterpart at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on March 26, 2014 in Paris. Xi was set today to sign a series of major business deals on the second day of a lavish state visit to France. Xi is on his first-ever European tour and after visiting The Netherlands and France will head to Germany and Belgium. AFP PHOTO POOL CHRISTOPHE ENA

By Harvey Oberfeld

Keeping It Real

March 12, 2018

So much for “quiet” diplomacy; so much for behind-the-scenes “progress; so much for any pretense that Canada’s dealings with China is NOT endorsing, supporting and encouraging the trampling of even basic political and human rights.

President Xi Jinping this past weekend destroyed any charade that China is moving … even at a turtle’s pace  … to a more open, more responsive, more humane society.

In a scene that reminded me of those massive applause-filled phony endorsements of Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein  (first one to stop clapping was the first one to be arrested/shot), China’s National People’s Congress voted to remove the two-term limit in  the country’s Constitution.  Xi, 64, who was previously required to step down in 2023, can now rule for life.

“This marks the biggest regression in China’s legal system since the reform and opening-up era of the 1980s,” said Zhang Lifan, an independent Beijing-based political commentator in an interview with The Washington Post.

But Xi has been at it for years now … concentrating power in himself, ignoring even the guise of collective leadership”.

“Xi has appointed himself to head bodies that oversee national security, finance, economic reform and other major initiatives, effectively sidelining the Communist Party’s No. 2 figure, Premier Li Keqiang,” the Post reported.

In fact, Xi spent his first term “purging the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of any faction that challenged his omnipotence, while dialing up censorship, amassing more than a dozen separate leadership roles and assembling a budding cult of personality“, according to Time Magazine’s Beijing reporter.

The evidence of China’s RETROGRESSION on the human rights and democracy fronts has been front and center for five years now  …with any hint of dissension quashed, anyone who dares to express rights guaranteed in the Chinese Constitution harassed, arrested and imprisoned, with democracy advocates beaten, imprisoned, churches destroyed, defiant pastors sent to jail for years …. all amidst such widespread news, information and Internet censorship that China’s population is not only oppressed but literally repressed as well.

And all the while, Canadian federal and provincial officials, along with our business leaders have been eagerly extending, expanding and encouraging closer financial and business ties with China.

I get it.

Our moral compass has been buried; our ethical posturing has become a sham; and our principles have given way totally to principals.

It’s ALL about money … spending, investment, and foreign sales …. and it’s about time Canada started admitting THAT’S what we hold dearest: all the talk about tying “progress” in human rights etc to increasing economic ties was/is a sham.

It’s worse NOW for human dignity and political and even artistic freedoms in China than even during the regime of Mao Tse Tung.

Think about that the next time you see our business and political “leaders” smiling and shaking hands with Chinese state officials and companies.

Canada …. and we … should be ashamed.

Harv Oberfeld